How to work on YOUR goals, not theirs

In last Thursday’s post I posed some questions intended to challenge you, all revolving around one crucial success factor: Are you working on your goals, or someone else’s?

If you’ve read this far, chances are you have at least some concern about your answer to that question. As a way to gain some clarity, I encourage you to use what I call the “180 technique.” It’s straightforward: You look at the various aspects of a tough, energy-sucking situation, then determine what the 180-degree opposite of each of those aspects would be. Almost before you know it, you’ve designed a situation—or, in this case, a new goal—that’s all about you and what will thrill you.

Let’s get started.

What goals will reward and fulfill you?

I’m not talking about new, potentially scary things you’re willing to do despite the discomfort because you know they’ll get you the results you crave. I’m talking about activities that actively fill you with dread and simultaneously sap your energy, since what you’ll get as a result of taking those actions just isn’t worth the trauma.

These energizing activities strongly point to the type of work that feeds your soul.

Normally, if someone’s working toward a goal they’re really fired up about, it’s hard to shut them up. Sometimes not talking about a goal or activity is a way of implicitly wishing it away.

Naturally, some of these activities will fall under the heading of avocation, or leisure-time activities; others will fall under the heading of business. You’ll be emotionally nourished in either case, and you deserve to do what makes your heart sing. As an added bonus, being very clear on what delights you is also likely to spark your creativity so that you can figure out how to make money doing it.

Forget about the glib responses like “This is a million-dollar idea” or the coldly logical ones like “This is a growing market.” Those answers don’t really get at the guts of how the goal nourishes you. If you can’t identify the positive emotion you’ll experience as a result of achieving the goal, you’re not working on a goal that’s right for you.

Do your goals make sense for YOU?

When you can practically wax poetic about how you felt in achieving a goal, you know you’re dead on target. Your emotional pay-off could be in the form of excitement, enthusiasm, appreciation, gratitude, humility, a feeling of personal power, a deep sense of being part of something bigger than yourself…It doesn’t matter what the feeling is, just that you experience it.

As American author and philosopher Howard Thurman observed, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Values conflicts rarely, if ever, have happy endings. The good news for entrepreneurs whose goals conflict with their value(s) is that they have 100% control over letting go of the goal causing the conflict and substituting a more congruent one in its place.

If it’s been a while since you had a heart-to-heart talk with yourself about your values, you owe it to yourself to re-visit this key issue.

It’s not the easiest thing to honestly and clearly identify your true values, but it is very easy to say we value things we think we should value. For example, I may claim to value a healthful diet, but my weight may indicate that what I truly value is double-fudge brownies.

There are myriad exercises available to help you clarify your values. (A Google search of “values clarification exercise” quickly yielded 7.7 million results.) The most important thing is to just create your values list and use it to assess whether your current goals are in alignment with those values. If they are, woohoo for you—time for some celebratory double-fudge brownies! If not, it’s time to release the goals that didn’t make the grade and replace them with more authentic ones. Then, moving forward, you can keep your list front and center of your future personal and professional decisions.


So…What do you think? Are you living a life and building a business that fires you up and delights you? If you’re not there yet, what do you plan to do next to get to your happy place of working toward meaningful goals that are right for you?

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3 Responses to How to work on YOUR goals, not theirs

  1. Pingback: What are you doing to create a productive day for yourself? | Stepping Into Big

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